Feeling the warm love of the people who have been interceding for me and our mission community for many months was what my heart needed to thaw from the snow that was falling on the cold streets of Holland. As I entered the chapel in the Church of St. Tomas in Roermond, I saw pews filled with our prayer warriors that I had never met before. It was the first time that I got to receive the Eucharist with those who were committed to praying for me here for such a long period of time.
After Mass, we were invited to stay for coffee and tea (the Dutch are a very hospitable people!). Before I sat down, I was introduced to a beautiful woman who we will call Emma. During Mass, Emma caught my eye as I watched her drink from the Sacred Chalice. My heart was led to pray for her as I sensed that she was deeply hurting. When I was introduced to her, I knew that God had prepared this Divine Appointment.
We quickly entered into a conversation. During that time, she shared some of her struggles with me. I asked if we could pray about these things and she said, “yes” with a shocked look on her face. When we had found a quiet place to pray, she looked at me and said that people in Holland don’t just pray as we were about to.
This statement was very powerful for me. When she said this, my heart knew that it was also true for my home country, as well as many others. This is not just a problem in Holland. It made me question why it is such a foreign thing to pray. If we are the beloved sons and daughters of the Great King, shouldn’t we be praying with one another even more? Why are we so afraid of this source of strength and light?
It matters not what I did on that day; rather, how do we, as Christians with a missionary God, respond to a statement such as this? How willing are we to be witnesses of Christ’s love? Are we willing to get uncomfortable and pray with the stranger, in the midst of a worldwide culture that tells us not to? Do we truly believe in the power of the Holy Spirit that is seen in the Acts of the Apostles? Jesus tells us in Matthew’s Gospel that He is in the naked, hungry, and thirsty; He is in the stranger. Are we willing to see Jesus in our present time? Are we willing to invite people to go deeper with Jesus in the midst of our own discomfort? How far am I willing to go? How far does my “yes” go? Will I say yes as Mary did, even though it might mean deep suffering and trial?
We need to wake up. We need to wake up and lose our fear, anxiety, and pride. All of us, as Christians, are on mission. We need to gain confidence that God will work miracles in our lives. We need to pray for the grace to have the faith to believe this. In John’s Gospel, Jesus says, “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do and will do greater ones than these…If you ask anything of Me in My name, I will do it” (Jn. 14: 12, 14; emphasis added). Jesus gives us the invitation. Will we accept it?